Did You Know?: Academy Park

March 27, 2015  


Academy Park

On what used to be a large parking lot, Academy Park is a tribute to Purdue faculty members, located north of Stewart Center and Purdue Memorial Union. (Purdue University photo)
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Signaling the arrival of spring year after year, the flowering pear trees in Academy Park lend to the serenity of the plaza, which is often used as an open-air classroom once the frigid frost of winter has abated.  

Academy Park, located north of Stewart Center and Purdue Memorial Union, is named after The Academy, a school founded by Plato in Athens, Greece. The circular brick arena serves as a Grecian amphitheater. By standing in the center of the amphitheater, an orator can project his or her voice completely around the circle, ideal for professors holding class outside.

According to the Spring 1999 Perspective, in October 1994, President Steven Beering advocated for the next green space on campus to be dedicated in honor of Purdue faculty who engage students in enlightening and analytical studies.  

Construction was completed on Academy Park during fall 1997, but aside from the existing trees, planting hadn’t yet begun and wasn’t completed until summer 1998. Over 140 trees, 560 shrubs, 2,000 perennials and 15,000 ground cover plants were used to transform Academy Park into the green space Beering wanted to serve as the faculty’s memorial, according to the Winter 1997 Perspective.  

Academy Park was dedicated April 26, 1997, during Gala Weekend, a springtime festival sponsored by the Purdue Alumni Association.

In addition to the outdoor space, the Book of Great Teachers, which is located in the west foyer of Purdue Memorial Union, is an extension of Academy Park. Etched into the granite obelisk that sits at the south entrance of Academy Park are the names of the six professors who taught at Purdue when the University began classes in 1874. Continued in the Book of Great Teachers, a bronze and walnut plaque in the Union, are the names of professors who join the ranks as influential Purdue faculty.

The inaugural 1998 class to the Book of Great Teachers included 225 professors, and every five years new inductees are added to the list. Students, alumni and peers can nominate professors to the book, provided the professor has served as a Purdue faculty member for 15 or more years. The book grew to 384 faculty members following the most recent 2013 inductions.  

Writer: Kourtney Freiburger, 49-62993, kfreibu@purdue.edu 

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